August 29, 2014

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

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I love America. Yes, I know that America is not perfect, that we have a boatload of problems, that rights for some Americans have been hard fought, that we have messed up on occasion throughout the world, and every other complaint you hear again and again. Still, I love America. And the reason I love America is because at its founding it asserted this fundamental truth: Man is created to be free. Yes, I know this makes some Orthodox uneasy. Yes, I know that ultimate freedom comes only through Christ. Yes, I know that this sounds very close to right-wing fundamentalism. Yes, I know all that. Still, I love America. The Founding Fathers, said Alexander Solzhenitsyn (perhaps the most profound moral thinker of the last half of the last century) understood this about the freedom of America: Yet in the early democracies, as in the American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted on the ground that man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given … [Read more...]

Archbishop Demetrios’ Encyclical on the Fourth of July

July 4, 2009 Independence Day To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The Fourth of July is a day when we join with people across this nation and around the world in the celebration of an historic achievement that exalted the necessity of human freedom and initiated a political and social environment filled with opportunity and potential. The United States of America, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, was “conceived in liberty,” dedicated to the ideal of justice and equality for all, thus becoming a nation that broadened the scope and function of citizenship and of the meaning of belonging and … [Read more...]

Wisdom from Samuel Adams

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Thomas Sowell before the election

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Freedom-Loving Orthodoxy

In the May 2008 issue of The Word,* published by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Gregory Cook looks at the ways Orthodox Christianity may "transfigure" America. "Orthodoxy has always been open to building on what is true and extant in any nation or culture," Cook writes. "America should be no different." *Also republished here (non .pdf). He quotes Metropolitan Antony Bashir: Orthodoxy is a freedom-loving, democratic faith … it is at its best in our free America. If the best of Byzantium has survived, it is in the United States, and if there is an Orthodox political ideal, it is enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Cook's article, "Words We Live By: Orthodox and American Ideals in Foundational Texts" is an excellent reflection on what it means to be Orthodox in America and what America has given the Orthodox. While we're at it on this Fourth of July, read the Declaration of Independence. Can anyone … [Read more...]

Independence Day

Thoughts on freedom as we approach the celebration of another Independence Day: From the beginning the Creator allowed human beings their freedom and a free will; they were bound only by the law of his commandment. St. Gregory the Theologian (Orations 14.25 ["On Caring for the Poor"], PG 35:892A) Freedom means being one's own master and ruling oneself; this is the gift that God granted to us from the beginning. St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and Resurrection, PG 46:101CD) Man is made in the image of God, Who is humble but at the same time free. Therefore it is normal and natural that he should be after the likeness of his Creator -- that he should recoil from exercising control over others while himself being free and independent by virtue of the presence of the Holy Spirit within him. Those who are possessed by the lust for power cloud the image of God in themselves. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 9; St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 73) The idea of … [Read more...]